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"let the bird of loudest lay" by William Shakes-speare

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"let the bird of loudest lay" by William Shakes-speare


Published December 2012


Also known as "The Phoenix and the Turtle", this poem was first published in 1601 as part of Robert Chester's "Love's Martyr: or Rosalins Complaint. Allegorically shadowing the truth of Loue, in the constant Fate of the Phoenix and Turtle. A Poeme enterlaced with much varietie and raritie; now first translated out of the venerable Italian Torquato Caeliano, by Robert Chester. With the true legend of famous King Arthur the last of the nine Worthies, being the first Essay of a new Brytish Poet: collected out of diuerse Authenticall Records. To these are added some new compositions of seuerall moderne Writers whose names are subscribed to their seuerall workes, vpon the first subiect viz. the Phoenix and Turtle."

The full text of the poem is:

" LEt the bird of lowdeft lay,
On the fole Arabian tree,
Herauld fad and trumpet be :
To whofe found chafte wings obay.

But thou fhriking harbinger,
Foule precurrer of the fiend,
Augour of the feuers end,
To this troupe come thou not neere.

From this Seffion interdict
Euery foule of tyrant wing,
Saue the Eagle feathered King,
Keepe the obfequie to ftrict.

Let the Prieft in Surples white,
That defunctiue Muficke can,
Be the death-deuining Swan,
Left the Requiem lacke his right

And thou treble dated Crow,
That thy fable gender makâft.
With the breath thou giu'ft and tak'ft,
Mongft our mourners fhalt thou go.

Here the Antheme doth commence,
Loue and Conftancie is dead,
Phoenix and the Turtle fled,
In a mutuall flame from hence,

So they loued as loue in twaine,
Had the effence but in one,
Two diftincts, Diuifion none,
Number there in loue was flame.

Hearts remote, yet not afunder;
Diftance and no fpace was feene,
Twixt this Turtle and his Queene;
But in them it were a wonder.

So betweene them Loue did fhine,
That the Turtle faw his right,
Flaming in the Phoenix fight;
Either was the others mine.

Propertie was thus appalled,
That the felfe was not the fame :
Single Natures double name,
Neither two nor one was called.

Reafon in itfelfe confounded,
Saw Diuifion grow together,
To themfelues yet either neither,
Simple were to well compounded.

That it cried, how true a twaine,
Seemeth this concordant one,
Loue hath Reafon, Reafon none,
If what parts, can fo remaine.

Whereupon it made this Threne,
To the Phoenix and the Doue,
Co-fupremes and ftarres of Loue,
As Chorus to their Tragique Scene.

Threnos.

BEautie, Truth, and Raritie,
Grace in all fimplicitie,
Here enclofde, in cinders lie.

Death is now the Phoenix neft,
And the Turtles loyall breft,
To eternitie doth reft.

Leauing no pofteritie,
Twas not their infirmitie,
It was married Chaftitie.

Truth may feeme, but cannot be,
Beautie bragge, but tis not fhe,
Truth and Beautie buried be.

To this vrne let thofe repaire,
That are either true or faire,
For thefe dead Birds, figh a prayer."


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